Composting in the run?

drinkoj

Chicken Chaser
May 24, 2020
684
1,518
236
Upstate South Carolina
I have researched this to where I am almost sick of reading varying thoughts on the matter, trying to figure out if it would work in mine.

1. I have composted before, just not with chickens/poop. Stopped because it was getting to be too time consuming turning, flipping, and flopping stuff. Just not enough time nor the ambition to do it constantly.
2. I have a 10x10x6 chicken run connected to my coop with 4 to 6 inches of material.
3. I use poop boards in my coop with 6" of deep pine shavings., thus I will only be cleaning out my coop shavings once or twice a year to put into the run.
4. I have 11 laying pullets which produce about 1 to 2 quarts of poop a day.
5. I use pine shavings in the coop and run. I also throw shredded paper and leaves in the run. My lawn mower mulches the grass so I do not have grass clipping typically.
6. The run is covered and on the top of a slight slope.
7. I do NOT free range.

So here is what I need help with:
A. Do I have enough room to put a composting box in the run? I have concrete blocks to build a 3 walled bin and/or can get a 4x4 foot cardboard box to contain the composting material. Just hate to take over the run with something that size, or maybe I'll think of a way to in-cooperate it on the slant (hmm, think I could do that to create a lip about 3 inches tall).
B. Considering the amount of chicken poop we generate a day and I THINK it would be an excessive amount of green (poop) being added to the composting bin daily, where do I put this excess chicken poop? Right now I'm throwing it into the woods and don't know anybody else that is composting that needs it.

I've just built the first stage of a concrete compositing box with leaves and kitchen veggie scraps/egg shells, just incase I don't have enough room in the run. This will lead to the importance of Question B, what the heck to do with all this chicken poop, as if it sits in the flower potters bowls, it attracts flies like nobody's business.

Thanks for your responses, but too many different threads that all seem to "kinda" answer a question but then turn into wildly different from my own needs.
 
If you are thinking of making a compost bin in the run, remember, chickens love to scratch around in compost. So maybe instead of taking up space, you could be making something to entertain them. Of course, they will scratch some of it out of the bin and you will have to shovel it back in...
4x4 foot cardboard box
Cardboard will fall apart. Concrete blocks will last forever.
 
What you may want to consider is not having a compost "pile", per say, but "slow composting" in the run in a deep litter setup. In a way, that sounds like what you're already doing...put spent shavings, leaves, paper, wood chips, and other available carbon in the run, and the chickens will compost in whatever poop and food waste you toss in.

You'll need a good base of carbon (6" is a good start) and will likely need to add throughout the year (a couple of bales of hay or stray is a great addition from time to time).

Once the system is going for a bit, if you go in with a pitchfork and turn over some ground from time to time, you'll see dark, beautiful soil underneath, likely full of lots of worms and other treats for your flock. If you mix in some soaked seeds, you may even be able to add sprouts to the menu.

I did this in my run for 5+ years and never had to remove materials (although my run was much larger than yours). I switched to a "compost pile" setup this year, but next year plan a hybrid method...with both compost pile but also a deep layer of wood chips on the rest of the run.
 
What you may want to consider is not having a compost "pile", per say, but "slow composting" in the run in a deep litter setup. In a way, that sounds like what you're already doing...put spent shavings, leaves, paper, wood chips, and other available carbon in the run, and the chickens will compost in whatever poop and food waste you toss in.

So should I start dumping the poop board poop, into the run with all the materials like pine shavings, leaves, weeds, shredded paper, and etc.?

I feel it is going to waste and could help with the deep liter setup.
 
So should I start dumping the poop board poop, into the run with all the materials like pine shavings, leaves, weeds, shredded paper, and etc.?

I feel it is going to waste and could help with the deep liter setup.

I'd say yes. The thing with any compost system is to "observe and adjust"...if the extra poop causes bad smells or a mess, either add more carbon or dispose of the board scrapings another way. A good carbon base will probably accept the extra nitrogen, though.
 
I'd say yes. The thing with any compost system is to "observe and adjust"...if the extra poop causes bad smells or a mess, either add more carbon or dispose of the board scrapings another way. A good carbon base will probably accept the extra nitrogen, though.
Major thanks! I’ll watch for the signs of too much greens and then adjust based on the seasons down here in Upstate SC
 
If you have oak leaves, they make a really good carbon base. I've found that they break down more slowly than other kinds of leaves. I like how they crunch underfoot when they're dry, too. :)
Primarily Sugar maple leaves but do have 1 oak tree that sheds some of its leaves in the corner of my backyard.
 
I compost in my run -- it works great. One thing not previously mentioned is that I throw kitchen waste (veggie peels, coffee grounds, rotted veggies, etc.-- no meat) into the compost along with all the leaves from my property. I additionally throw in weeds or plants I don't want anymore. I personally don't worry about having "bad seeds" in my compost since for me the idea of planting in compost is that the soil is so soft you can readily pull up any weeds.

Another consideration: I had a compost pile long before I had chickens (like 20 years before) so it is chock full of the right microbes and worms. If you don't have a pre-existing compost pile, find a neighbor who has one (and no chickens, owing to biosecurity) and borrow a few buckets of dirt. That will get you pile launched. Otherwise it can be a year or two to get started. I have helped out many a neighbor in this manner. It works.

I personally only turn over the compost pile 1-2x a year. Many say you have to do it more often, but I don't bother as I am not in a particular rush to get the compost.
 

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